As a pastor, Timothy had to deal with people from a variety of ages, people older than him, people who were his peers, and people who were younger than him.
And the thing that Paul reminds him here is, “You are not Lord over these people. These are family members. Treat them as such.”
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1-2)
There were times when Timothy would have to confront men that were older than him. Paul is not saying here that he should never rebuke his elders. Rather, he was to refrain from doing so harshly. To refrain from unduly upbraiding them or humiliating them. Paul said, “Think of these men as your own father, as people deserving of respect.”
He said the same of older women, that Timothy was to treat them as if they were his own mother. He was to deal with them gently and with all honor and respect.
For the younger men, he was not to lord himself over them either, but rather to treat them as brothers.
And for the younger women, he was to be careful how he dealt with them as well. There would probably be women that would be attracted to a godly man like Timothy. And he was to be careful to treat them as he would his own sisters, not abusing his position as pastor in any way.
It is important, though, not just for pastors to remember all this. But as members of the church, we are to think the same way. To remember that we are all one family in God.
As has often been pointed out, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives. And in Christ, we are all family. So don’t look down on your family members or treat them as dirt. Remember to treat each other with respect, with all purity, and above all, with love.
How are you treating your family members?